Watch Me Take The Bar
Watch Me Take The Bar
This blog, originally started as a chronicle of my taking the bar, is now a look into the mind of an attorney in solo practice in Port Clinton, Ohio.
Saturday, December 31, 2005

My Final Entry for 2005*

With two hours and fifty-nine minutes left, and a functioning (for the moment) Internet connection, I didn't think I wanted to let my first year as a blogger expire without one more entry.

I was thinking earlier today about the year, which one just tends to do. Between the highs of 7:08 AM on October 28, and the lows of losing essentially two whole months of the year to the bleepin bar exam, it's been a pretty awesome year.

I did the whole Groceryman thing, and have had a terrific time.

I am able to represent clients. And have a few.

I have blogged where I have seen injustice.

I spent essentially 20 days of my year on vacation. Florida (twice), Las Vegas, New York. Not bad. (My Aunt Jody would be proud. Here's why.)

I got up at 4 AM to watch the funeral of the Pope. (No, I don't consider I have had an outlet for whenever I had a thought I wanted to share with the world.

Since I took this blog public on December 31, there have been 6,789 unique visits to this website.

That essentially means that 6,789 times, someone said, "Gee, I wonder what Michael's thinking."

That's pretty damn cool.

I have blogged my life.

I have blogged the CalBar results.

I passed the bar.

Mucho thanks to my friends, who put up with my gnashing of teeth, my harebrained ideas, my showing-up-at-their-home-at-7am-with-a-bottle-of-pepto-bismol to get my bar results.

A special shoutout to those of you I've met through the Blogosphere who went through the same harrowing ordeal I did. The support and laughter has been awesome. When I hear from people that they don't trust lawyers, I'm going to introduce 'em to you folks.

See y'all in 2006! Happy New Year!

* DISCLAIMER: This blogger's representation of this being his final entry for 2005 is not to be taken as a guaranty, warranty or anything of that kind. This blogger reserves the right to come up with something witty at 10:42 PM, 11:07 PM, or 11:59:59 PM, and by reading this disclaimer you agree to hold him harmless for this.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Just Damn

I'm so incredibly unsure how I feel on this story about a sixteen-year-old who, on his own, made his way to Baghdad. (As you might have guessed, he neglected to run this past his parents. Can you imagine that call, "Hey, mom and dad, I'm in Baghdad!)

I mean, incredibly stupid. His parents have got to be up in arms, and he is SOOOOOOO grounded.

But, wow. Talk about striking out on your own and marching to your own drummer...

Let it snow...just not on my ISP...

We're getting snow right now.

Big, fluffy snowflakes. Really quite beautiful. Don't know if it's supposed to stick.

I'd be much more inclined to celebrate this development (because it is pretty), were it not that I fear it will further delay my ISP people from climbing whatever tower they have to climb to supposedly get me a better signal.

Right now, for wireless Internet, I am remarkably wedded to sitting on my "porch" (it's not really, it's a room on the back of my condo with windows facing the harbor. It feels just as warm as the rest of the place.) And hoping my Internet is kind.

Yesterday, it worked until about noon and stopped.

Bah humbug.

My ISP does not have long to fix this problem before they are told I want my money back.

And now it's stopped snowing.

So perhaps they'll get down to it.

One can hope.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Michael's New Years Resolution

I don't do New Years' resolutions.

Why? 'Cause I generally don't follow them. And, were I to come up with a good one, it would probably involve taking time to do something I know I should do but don't have the time/energy/motivation/desire to do, or discontinuing the doing of something I know I shouldn't do but don't have the willpower/motivation to give up.

The last New Years' resolution I made was when I was three years old. No more walking backwards.

Probably not a bad resolution. You'd understand this more if you'd ever seen me try to walk forward.

Anyway, for 2006, I'm making a resolution.

I am going to try to make at least one new, healthy recipe per week.

Good food is one of my passions. I love things that taste good. Maybe it's the grocery heritage, maybe it's because food is a natural way of gathering people together (although generally I prefer one or two close friends than having some huge, impersonal party), maybe I just naturally like palate pleasing things and that's as much of an explanation as I can give you.

Anyway, I've always enjoyed culinary delights. And was never given much credit for being any good in the kitchen, even though that was more because I didn't go into the kitchen much than any horrible experiences.

So, once I got to law school and had an apartment with an actual kitchen, I decided to try my hand at the culinary arts.

And found I was able to cook.

My interest in cooking has not waned -- in fact, if anything, it's increased since the bar exam. I don't know if this is accurate, but my theory is that I want to feel like I'm learning some new skill even though I'm no longer in school. So, perhaps I'm channeling my desire for new knowledge into cooking. Who knows?

But I've noticed a disturbing trend.

The recipes I know, while tasty, are also not terribly good for you.

My favorite pasta sauce involves cream and Parmesean cheese. And I'm not stingy with the cheese.

I recently made beef Stroganoff. Sour cream, anyone?

I've been known to buy two cans of french fried onions when the green bean casserole only calls for one.

And my cheesy potato casserole, while delicious is, well, cheesy.

Ditto for the macaroni/cheese/corn casserole. (I am actually going to make that sometime soon for Laura, since she bought me the cookbook I learned it out of.)

Now, any of these in moderation is fine. If it were, like, one or two meals a week, that would be great.

The problem is that these are the main meals I know how to cook. And when I'm not eating those, I'm doing something like takeout or pizza or a frozen dinner.

Yeah, lots of nutritional value there.

And I know that when I eat healthy, I do feel better.

Plus, I happen to live near Bassett's Market, which is home to a very nice organic foods section. So, I should probably become acqauinted with that.

Anywho. One new, healthy recipe a week. (I found a great site for them: No, they aren't paying me to advertise.)

Those I like, I'll keep. I'll even post 'em.

Those I don't like, at least I'll have tried.

And I'll have learned something.

It's a good idea. I'm glad I thought of it.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Birthday to Me

No, this isn't some sort of post where I reveal my horrid Messianic complex to you. This is not becoming the Watch Me Take The Bar: The Cult (although that would be a heckuva cult, complete with the compulsory government raid.) I was actually born on Christmas Day.

This is, at best, a mixed blessing. Some days, it's hard to find the blessing in there. I have a foggy conception of what birthday paper looks like. And the birthday cake. You get gipped on birthday cake a lot when your birthday is at Christmas. (My mom said last night, "Oh...we forgot a birthday cake. Again.")

Other people share their birthday with Joe Torre or Stevie Nicks. I get to share it with someone whose business card reads "Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace."

Makes "Attorney at Law" seem pretty insignificant, doesn't it?

On the other hand, there are some definite benefits to having your birthday on Christmas.

I never had to be in class on my birthday.

I will never work a day of my life on my birthday.

People are generally in a good mood.

My siblings were never jealous when I got gifts, since they got them, too.

Beyond that, much though I complain about my birthday (and I do), there is something undeniably cool about the fact that my birthday is ON Christmas. Not on December 24 or December 26 or July 4 or any other day; but Christmas, for heavens' sake. It makes for a good story at cocktail parties, if nothing else.

Anuway, it's Christmas. It's a good day. Merry Christmas everyone!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

The Theory and Practice of Kum Buh Yah

Michael Getler
Ombudsman, PBS

Dear Mr. Getler:

I'll begin this note by saying I feel bad for you. It appears that, on your first day on the job as ombudsman for PBS, you were faced by a plethora of letters from fathers' rights advocates.

I'd've probably either quit, called in sick, or marched straight to my boss' office to demand a raise. A big one.

However, I'd've done everything I could have to resisted doing what you did: Inviting them to hold hands and sing Kum Buh Yah.

A few months ago, PBS aired a program called Breaking the Silence. It was about how family courts often fail children and will place them with their abusers.

It was incredibly well done. I didn't get to write a post about it because I was busy doing chants to the Almighty to be kind to me what with the bar results coming out, but I can tell you that, as I watched it, I kept nodding my head going, "Uh-huh. Uh-huh. Uh-huh."

One of the things shown in the program was the taped phone call played on the air of a little girl calling her mother begging to be picked up. This was particularly poignant to me because, within half an hour, a friend and I had our phone conversation interrupted by the operator for an emergency call because my friend's 10 year old son, who lives with his father, was hiding in the corner of a closet after he was screamed at because he hadn't double-spaced a paper he was writing for school. I got to listen to my friend's end of the conversation as she reassured him that double-spacing was not rocket science.

So, yeah, you might say this program was dead-on.

Not surprisingly, our friends at the father's rights movement didn't like this documentary. One of the things that has allowed us to have the public perception that mothers get whatever they want in court is that so much of this is done behind the scenes and in secret. (Which is another post I've got in the pipeline.) So, when it was exposed how awful the system can be and is, it's not surprising that those who often have a vested interest in keeping the system hidden would complain.

PBS, sadly, has managed to mirror what court systems too frequently do; namely, upon hearing complaints, deciding that (a) there must be some validity there or (b) we need to pacify them and give them away. Another friend of mine describes it this way: "We keep thinking if we give him Poland, he won't want Czechoslovakia. And we forget that Czechoslovakia is next."

So, Michael. You have apparently decided to give the fathers' rights movement half a loaf with their complaints on "Breaking the Silence."

Your column on this notes, by the way, that this show aired on 77% of PBS stations, and so was probably viewed by less than 1% of the American population. I'd guess that's probably a pretty good bet; first of all, most people don't consider PBS "must see TV" at its sexiest, and most people aren't looking to forego ER for a show about child abuse. So, we can bet that a relatively small number of people saw this. (I did think it might not be a bad idea to make every judge and attorney who wants to set foot in family court watch it.)

Nonetheless, the fathers' rights groups have seized on a program that hardly anyone saw. (In Toledo, they aired it at 2 AM.)

Wow, what are they trying to hide??

OK, let's start with the fact that as you say, "the abusers are not seen or heard from in the film, but they are all fathers."

Oh, damn, here we go again. I think the implication here is why didn't we deal with the women who abuse?

Well, I hate to break it to you, but 95% of domestic violence cases involve men. (That leaves, for those of you not gifted in math, another 5% of them which involve women.) Domestic violence is always wrong, no matter whether perpetrated by a man or a woman. But, when we've got a problem which is 95% one way and 5% the other, perhaps we ought to try to get the 95% down some and then work on the other.

Then we go to the quote by a director of a facility for domestic violence, who said she thought "the program lacked balance."

So, we should have gotten someone on to say that giving custody to abusers was a good thing? As I recall, the allegations made by abusers were reported in the program.

And that the program "dealt with extreme cases."

So, what, the people in extreme cases deserve just as much justice as those in, well, non-extreme cases? Or am I forgetting that part of the pledge of allegiance that says, "with liberty and justice for all except those in extreme cases."

Frankly, "extreme cases" probably means there's extreme abuse or manipulation. I should hope we're dealing with extreme cases.

Anyway, de minimis non curat lex, Michael. Look it up. It means the law is there to deal with extreme cases.

(Oh, and by the way, if we knew how many of these "extreme cases" were out there, we'd probably be nauseous.)

Perhaps my favorite comment from this person was that the cases in the documentary "seemed to date back several years."

Altogether possible. Cases can go on for years on end. My friend's divorce was filed three and a quarter years ago. When she filed for divorce, Laci Peterson was still alive, Nick & Jessica were planning their wedding, and we were commemorating the first anniversary of 9/11. (I want to go back and see who else filed that day and chart where they are. I'm willing to bet there are Peale who, in that timespan, have gotten divorced, gotten remarried, filed and gotten a divorce.)

That these cases drag on for so long is a form of abuse. First of all, it gives the abuser time to wreak more havoc on the family situation, which is exactly what happened, and to further victimize the victim. Secondly, realize that, while three and a half years may not mean much to you or I, it's a HUGE chunk of a child's life. Third, realize that this costs money, and is incredibly draining on all of us.

(The next person who tells me it needs to be harder to get a divorce in this country is going to be in for a long explanation, lemme promise you.)

There appears to have also been an objection to Parental Alienation Syndrome. Now, frankly, I'm going to avoid this minefield pretty much altogether. However, let me say that a case that was discussed on "Breaking the Silence" involved a mother being court-ordered to put a daughter into daycare so she'd be less likely to bond with the mother. I tend to think that is alienation.

Apparently, one of your writers, John Dennis, thought that the program was "filled with misinformation and emotional baiting, the characteristics of propaganda not journalism." (Either you didn't include, or more likely, he didn't say, what part of the program was misinformation.) "Shame on you," he continued, "for perpetuating popular myths to a wide audience instead of crafting a program that courageously tackles the pressing social issue of custody in a factual and informed manner."

John, baby. I love how you call these things "popular myths." Let's look at this:

"Popular" -- usually meaning that a lot of people believe it. So, you're saying a lot of people believe that abusers get custody of their children? You must be hanging out on a planet where people are far more informed than I am.

"myths" -- something that is not true, but has become legendary. The biggest myth I am aware of is that mothers get whatever they want in family court. This program showed that to be inaccurate. So, "Breaking the Silence" was actually deconstructing a myth. Perhaps it was just a myth you were comfortable with.

All right. Now, Michael Getler, you have problems with the program. First, we didn't see enough of the father's rights people, although I sort of like what the program's producer said about not giving voice to a destructive political agenda. But I get where you're coming from (although I think some of the frivolous allegations made in custody disputes were at least enumerated.)

Your next problem is that some reference is made to events that occur in the mid-1990s. After you consider that it means the injustices perpetrated were so horrid that people are still ticked off about them in the mid-2000s, and you consider that the ripple effects of these atrocities echo down the years for children and down the generations for their progeny, go back and remember what I said about divorces that go on for three and a half years (and counting.)

The next large journalistic problem you identify with "Breaking the Silence" is that there aren't enough sub-titles to identify Richard Ducote, who's an attorney, or Lundy Bancroft.

You know, that annoyed me, too. I missed seeing who Ducote was the first time they mentioned it and they waited too long. A pox on their houses. But the fact they were short on telling us that we were listening to an attorney who's an expert on the guardian ad litem system or someone who's involved in programs to combat battering does not mean it was a flawed documentary. It means they should have told us who the people were.

The most major criticism you make -- and the only one that seems to have any merit -- is that the producers did not discuss on the program WHY they didn't use any opposing viewpoints. But you have to spend a great deal of time reenumerating all of the allegations and making them sound like they have merit, before, towards the end of your column, saying, "So, I am not claiming here that PBS editorial guidelines were clearly breached, although many critics argue precisely that point..."


Stop the music.

You won't say that they clearly breached all of this? The best you can say is that the program was tilted?

Not even slanted?

But we're spending all this time making people hear all these flaws and beating a horse that doesn't exist?

Wait. Wait. Wait.

I've seen this movie before. I know how it ends.

This is family court redux! Where we go through a year and a half of no investigation and then get there and are surprised to find that one parent was a good and attentive parent, the other never showed up, but since the divorce has been filed, he's shown some interest, so we give him custody. (Look for the quote about sponges.)

You're inviting us to hold hands and sing kum buh yah with people who do not deserve to have their hands held. They deserve to be told that this is a problem. I'm sure there are men out there who have been unjustly screwed over in court, and I am deeply sorry for their loss. If one of them calls me, I will gladly represent them.

I am sick and tired, however, of the assumption that domestic violence is something that we shouldn't talk about, or that we should allow the abuser to assign away at least 50% of the blame to someone else (usually, the victim; in this case, PBS.)

It's like saying that a bank teller is as guilty of the stickup artist.

Was the documentary perfect? Perhaps not. Is there a perfect documentary, book, record, person? No.

Is this a crucial topic we don't understand nearly enough about? Absolutely. Was I delighted to see that it finally received some airtime, albeit at 2 AM on 77% of some PBS stations? Yes.

Am I surprised that your inbox was full of email from angry mens' rights advocates (as you point out, most of it was mass generated?) Not in the least. There are abusers, as well as attorneys and judges who have a great deal invested in making sure that flaws in the system are not exposed, for the benefit of their reputations and their revenues.

Congratulations to PBS for having the courage to air this crucial documentary.

And shame on you for feeling the need to give half a loaf to people who hardly deserved a slice.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Quote of the Day + quick update

Explanation pre-quote: I flew into New York (via Detroit connecting in Dulles to NY), and Laura met me after taking a Grayhound. We flew out together, New York, Dulles, Detroit. (If you fly Independence Air, you HAVE TO connect through Dulles. Every one of their flights is either to or from Dulles. It's just how it works. Also, for some reason, they always put the incoming flights on the complete freakin opposite end of the airport.) Anywho, Laura was nervous because our tickets had us arriving Dulles at 6:55 and leaving at 7:40 or somesuch, and thought our luggage might not make it. I told her that this was a case of gross airline overcompensation...our flight was to take off at 5:15 and they had said the other day it was a 40-minute flight from Dulles to New York. Which led to this conversation.)

Laura: You're sure that it was only a 40-minute flight?

Michael: Relatively; but remember, I am Lawyerman, not Pilotman.

Laura: Yes, but you can tell time. Were you in the air for 40 minutes or not?


The only thing more difficult than staying at the Gershwin Hotel is, apparently, leaving it.

Check out time was at 11. Laura and I had our stuff packed and vacated the room at 10, but our plane didn't leave until, as mentioned above, 5:15. So, at 10:05, we presented ourselves at the Gershwin Hotel's desk to check out, and asked them to hold their bags.

Has anyone else ever stayed somewhere where they CHARGE you a dollar per bag to hold it?

Up front, no less. It's not like you can stiff them; they could charge us when we return and want our bags.

(I found it particularly galling they would do this as I was signing the final bill, by which I was helping the owners of the Gershwin to have a much merrier Christmas than they really deserve.)

OK, so, we paid our ransom -- er, storage fee -- for our bags, and went off to explore the city. I made an abortive attempt to go on the NBC Studios Tour (it was full) and did some shopping, while Laura burnished her reputation as the Queen of Cost-Efficient Retail (Look Great, Save Mons.) We returned to the Gershwin for one last time, to pick up our bags.

Now, any hotel I've been in keeps the bags behind the counter (for free.) But not the Gershwin.

First, I asked them to call me a taxi to take us to LaGuardia. (If I spelled your name wrong, sorry, Fiorello.) Well, they couldn't do this, because there is no main number to call for taxis. You have to walk out to the street and wave.

Well, didn't that sound like fun. When you consider I had a suitcase, a laptop case and a garment bag, and Laura had two suitcases and a backpack, we were going to make a real interesting site making our way to the corner of 27th and Fifth.

All right, so, can I have my bags? Sure, the woman behind the counter said. We waited.

Then she said, "You can have a seat."

I didn't like the sound of that.

So, we sat on the Gershwin's mutated couch, waiting for our bags.

And waiting.

And waiting.

Now, let's be clear. While Laura and I had a great time in New York, we REALLY didn't want to spend another night at the Gershwin.

So, making this flight was something to which we aspired greatly.

After ten minutes waiting for the bags, I asked the lady behind the desk what was going on. She said that she had put out a page for them, and if I wanted to go find the guy getting the bags, I could go to the second floor.

Yeah. Me on the second floor of the Gershwin tracking down the guy who's supposed to have my bags?

That wasn't happening.

Eventually, our bags showed up, just as Laura pointed out a taxi which had pulled up to drop off some poor unsuspecting folks who were just starting their sentence -- er, stay -- at the Gershwin. I begged and pleaded with him to wait for our bags to be released, which he did. Ultimately, the fellow in charge of bringing our bags down showed up, and we made our escape from the Gershwin Hotel, hopefully never to return there, except to howl hysterically and say never again before returning to a better establishment.


PS: My ISP guy swears my connection will be better probably next week. So, if I remain light on the updates, it's because the snow does not allow the radio signal to reflect into my apartment so I can have Internet.

I don't understand what that means either, other than Blogger is slow to load at home. So be patient and I will try to bestow as much WMTTB goodness as I can on an Internet connection only Celerity could love.

Monday, December 19, 2005

A different perspective

When you've got two musical nuts like Laura and I rambling 'bout New York, it's a pretty safe bet you'll find yourself spending a fair amount of time on Broadway and in Times Square.

Which is where most everyone else in New York seems to end up.

Which means that you start to realize..."Holy crap...there are a whole ton of folks around here!"

Then you head back down Seventh and from Times Square to the Garden, another scrum of people. (I'm not exactly sure Laura believes me that scrum is a word. It is, but even if it's not, it should be.) We've both agreed that entering the Toys R Us on Times Square would require some sort of insanity or drugged state that neither of us possesses. (Heck, there were lines just to get into the place.)

I keep looking at Laura and saying, "Imagine the gall to say...'Okay, we're going to put eight million people, of all different walks of life, together and just stand back and watch the commotion.'" We've decided the city could probably use three mayors.

So, yesterday morning was quite different.

We were going to the Radio City Christmas Spectacular at 9 AM. (They hold something like three or four performances a day just to accomodate all the people who want to see it.) We left our hotel around 7:30 and started walking down Fifth Avenue.

And it was almost like we owned the place.

No one was out. There were no crowds. We had no problems getting down the streets.

It left us more free to check out the architecture, the city. And to admire the vastness of a place built for lots of people, but with no one there.

It made me feel like, for a few seconds, it was our city.

It's interesting what you learn about a person you travel with. I've learned Laura hates -- absolutely hates -- people who move slowly on the street in front of her, especially when they take up the whole street. (This is quite possible to do, btw.) And she doesn't particularly care for whomever she's with to be behind her.

Oh, one other thing I've learned. The main branch of the New York Public Library?

They're short on books.

I told Laura I thought the founders of the Library must have decided to make a huge capital investment when they built the place by making it a beautiful temple of architecture, and by making it such a great building, hopefully save money on books.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

In A New York State of Mind

DISCLAIMER: I am having a wonderful time in New York. So, when you read the first part of this entry, understand that my complaining is more for the idea of you getting a flavor of what the abode is like.

"If that's the Happiness Hotel, I'd hate to see what the sad one looks like."
-- Fozzie, The Great Muppet Caper, 1981

I've a few words of advice for those of you who are thinking of staying at the Gershwin Hotel on your next trip to New York.


Uh, Michael? You promised us "a few words of advice."

*sighs* All right, wiseguy.

Don't do it. Happy?

While Laura refuses to say she doesn't think we'll ever stay in a worse hotel (and I guess it's true, it could always be worse), I think anyone trying to outshine the Gershwin will have pretty stiff competition.

First, they'll need a nightclub downstairs, which can be heard on the eighth floor. (The folks on the second and third floor aren't hard to spot; they're the ones with bags under their eyes who haven't slept in days.)

Next, they'll need to install a shower with not two but four levers for the operation of the water. FOUR. Explain how that works.

Wait. It just hit me. One of them is ice cold, one is lukewarm, and one is scalding.

And the one on the upper left hand corner -- which Laura and I have both been using -- is the "Combo" button, for when you want a taste of all three.

The good news about the nightclub is that it's drowned out by the radiator kicking in. Seriously, I thought that King Kong had come to visit the Gershwin Hotel to give it some much-needed renovations.

And, when we called the front desk to remark on how loud and unconducive to sleep the radiator was, the desk clerk said, in an exasperated tone, "Sir, that's just the radiator."

A picture of Pablo Picasso -- a LARGE picture of Pablo Picasso -- who looks wide-eyed and alarmed -- overlooks the entire room.

Earlier this evening, the remote control decided it only wanted to control the volume, and that changing channels just wasn't what it was going to do.

We have reached a tenuous peace with it, and no longer have to get up to change the channel every time we want to.

Our beds are on wheels.

Yeah, I said wheels.

The hardwood floor was last stained in the waning days of the Hoover administration.

While the hotel has an Internet provider called celerity, which proclaims that it means "rapidity of motion, swiftness, speed," its unpredictable nature have led Laura and I to dub it variously Hilarity or Rarity.

I'd like to say the Gershwin hotel is a nice place to rest your head and sleep at night.

But, y'know, the radiator and the nightclub kinda killed that one.


OK, but, as I said, we are having a marvelous time in New York. Thursday, upon meeting up, Laura and I went to find somewhere to eat. Finding the tallest building in New York City, we decided to the basement of the Empire State Building!

The Heartland Brewery is an excellent lunch spot. I have had the mushroom ravioli twice and it's very good, and fresh.

We then got in line for TKTS, where you can get reduced-price tickets for shows that haven't sold out. We decided we wanted to see Fiddler on the Roof, which featured Harvey Fierstien and Rosie O'Donnell. (I told Laura we wouldn't be standing in the reduced-price line if I were a rich man.)

But, wonder of wonder, miracle of miracles, we got seats -- good seats. It was a perfect match.

And, as it turned out, Fiddler was spectacular. Well acted and well sung with good music.

Well, then we decided to take a taxi. And here, our luck waned a bit.

First of all, the taxi line was actually more like a wait-in-line-for-the-taxis to show up line. While I thougt taxi drivers would see about two hundred people standing there as a revenue stream, they were obviously thinking of other things. It took forty-five minutes to get a taxi.

Once we got the taxi, we started to wonder if we were going to live. Our taxi driver drove at two speeds: STOPPED and BREAKNECK, and changed lanes in a pattern that would seem random if it wasn't designed to annoy and endanger.

We were quite pleased to arrive at the hotel. (Even if it is the Gerhswin.)

Friday, we walked to Rockefeller Center (after stopping at a nice Italian deli/restaurant...I can never spell that word...) and went through the Radio City Music Hall. Then we went through Barnes & Noble, where we checked out people's darkest secrets in the new PostSecret book. Then we decided we were done sightseeing for the day and decided to come back and decompress.

Even if it was at the Gershwin.

Today, we did shopping, ate lunch, tried to buy tkts, decided not to fight the line, did more shopping, and ordered delivery from a pretty darn good restaurant which I cannot think to spell.

All is well here in New York.

Even if we are at...the Gershwin.

Am I The Only One Who's Disturbed...

...that the President isn't even denying, but in fact DEFENDING, the fact that the US government is spying on US citizens WITHOUT A WARRANT?

I Could Write A Book

All I wanted to say was that I didn't need a wakeup call.

My voice was gravelly, I could barely speak. It was 4:09 AM, when no sane person is awake. I just wanted to growl that I was awake and didn't need a wakeup call, and have someone growl back at me that they wouldn't bother me. (My expectations for customer service are not terribly high at 4:09 AM.)

Instead, I got one of the best phone voices I'd ever heard. It sounded like this person was born to answer the phone at the Four Points Sheraton in Romulus, Michigan, in the wee small hours of the morning. She sounded like the best thing someone could do for her was call her and ask her not to give them a wake up call.

I wondered for a moment how she did it. The overnight desk job at the Four Points in Romulus, Michigan is not exactly the most desirable of jobs. The person holding it probably has had a life of some hardships and some joy leading up to this job. And yet, despite it all, she sounded genuinely delighted to be talking to a bleary-eyed and grovelly voiced lawyer at 4:09 who didn't want a wake up call.

How'd she get there? And how did she sound so delighted to be doing her job?

She could write a book.


I packed my bags and stumbled downstairs. It's my experience that at 5 AM no one wants to be awake, let alone toting their bags around a hotel lobby. The airport shuttle wasn't there, so I settled into a couch in the lobby, planning to sit there in silence until transport arrived.

Into the lobby came two men who were obviously pilots and a few women who were flight attendants. It struck me that while I'm not happy to be traveling at such an ungodly hour, being expected to fly an airplane at this hour seems like something superhuman.

Despite looking alert and happy to be on their way to being back on the road, or more correctly, in the air, the pilots still seemed to acknowledge they were part of the society of people awake and moving at five a.m. They nodded at me as they walked past and seemed like a pretty amiable bunch.

I ended up in conversation with one of the flight attendants, who I'd guess was around fifty. I mentioned my plane took off at 6:25 and, being as it was 5:30, I was just the least bit nervous I wasn't at the airport yet. "Don't worry," she said. "Our plane takes off at 6:35 and we're not there."

I pointed out that, while the plane wouldn’t take off without them, I was not an essential element to my airplane's flight. This was something she had apparently never thought of, and she roared with laughter.

I don't say it seemed like she had never considered this because she was thick or anything along that line; rather, she seemed like a humble enough person she never considered that her not being on the plane at the appointed time would mean that the plane would have to take off.

I asked her how long she’d been a flight attendant; she said nine months. I asked how she liked it, and she said she was taking it one day at a time.

"I bet you could write a book," I said. She laughed. "You have no idea!"


The flight attendant started talking to the pilot, and I lapsed back into silence, when all of a sudden, a friendly, late-middle aged fellow, walked into the lobby and leaned up against the column nearest to me. He shuddered. "It's cold out there."

What is this? I quietly said to myself. I never talk to people in hotel lobbies, now God's throwing 'em at me one after another.

"Yeah," I deadpanned, "who would have guessed it would be cold in Michigan in December?"

"Well, I'm from Arizona," he said. I determined it was Scottsdale.

"Have you ever eaten at Los Olivas?" I asked.

He said he hadn't. I said it was a damn fine Mexican restaurant.

It turned out he was a salesman for Kobe consumer electronics. He shared with me some of the things he did. And that he had lived eight places in the U.S. (Whether with the same company or not, I don’t know.)

And it struck me that he had lived what we wouldn’t call a fascinating life, but an interesting one. After all, do we all understand what it's like to be a salesman for Corporate America? To travel twice a month as part of your job to Detroit, and other cities as well? I don’t.

He could write a book.

The flight attendant could write a book.

The old black gentleman who drove the shuttle that picked me up, with his earpiece that gleamed with a blue light every now and then could write a book.

All sorts of stories to be told. But no time to tell them.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Why I've Been Awake Since 3:15

Well, two reasons, actually.

One of them is my aforementioned trip to New York; I wasn't really packed. When I woke up this morning at 3:15 (which was about an hour before I'd planned to do so), I set about packing. I'm about 85-90% done.

I'm finishing packing because, while my plane doesn't leave till tomorrow at an ungodly hour from Detroit, I am leaving Port Clinton very early this morning to go to Toledo for a hearing.

You'll remember my friend who was threatened with jail because her guardian ad litem hadn't been paid.

The same friend who then sought an emergency hearing and was scheduled for one two months after the emergency.

Well, finally, today, she -- more importantly, her son -- gets the hearing.

In it, custody of her son will be decided.

It will be suggested to the court that a child should not have to endure the police being called -- twice -- when a situation escalates because the child wants to call his mother.

That, when the police are involved and domestic violence charges are pressed against the child, the parent who presses the charges should not have a role in determining whether the child is represented by counsel.

Among other things.

The appetizers I've given you here are fairly frightening, and I assure you there is more. If I explained the whole thing, I'm pretty confident you'd say there's very little to worry about and there's no reason in the world custody shouldn't be changed. And I'd tend to agree with you. I'd feel relatively confident about my friend's chances, if only the courts hadn't managed to screw this up so many times before when confronted with evidence of abuse and its effects.

Today will be a big test of whether the court can get it right. I'm praying for the best, and that common sense will rule the day far more than it has so far. Say a prayer, do a chant, or a dance, or whatever you do, for some justice.

PS: I am greatly looking forward to this trip to New York. The company'll be terrific and it's a good time to go. Especially after what will be a rather nerve-wracking morning in court. If not for being a lawyer, and having so much decorum, I'd say to heck with the whole suit thing and wear the shirt Eve bought for the last day of the bar exam. (Scroll down, it's there.)

PSS: Speaking of Eve, California has their model answers printed already. Meanwhile, Ohio can't get their act together enough to get the QUESTIONS on the website. For Pete's sake...

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Just so you know...I'm still out here :)

Hi all.

A combination of a bad Internet connection, my ideas for new entries having deserted me for the moment, and being incredibly busy as I prepare to go to New York on Thursday has contributed to no updates lately.

I will be updating at some point, in some fashion.

In the meantime -- any suggestions about fun things to do in the Big Apple? (Things off the beaten path, perhaps?)

Friday, December 09, 2005

Another novel idea comes to life...

Seriously, I started a story on this at one time. It may even have been on this computer. Anywho, it was based on the premise that someone in the vicinity of the World Trade Center on 9/11 made a split-second decision to just walk away from it all and be considered dead. I thought it would be interesting to see the ramifications and the fallout on that in a novel form.

Well, while I haven't gotten around to writing it, it appears that the same thing is happening in Louisiana. People who have disappeared and haven't been found because, as one official says, "they don't want to be found."

While some haven't come back because they simply "decided there’s nothing to come back to or for," others are sex offenders or other criminals. And while we don't mind these folks disappearing, the problem is they reappear somewhere else, and without the monitoring we have.

Anyway. It's an interesting possibility.

Speaking of my writing, you may recall that after the bar exam, I found that the "creative writing gene" reemerged in me and got started on a novel. I worked fairly diligently on it through early August. Then, the grocery stores happened and it got put on the shelf.

To my great delight, however, I continue to peck away at it. Now, "peck" is the operative word -- I'm only on page 28 (single-spaced.) But I'm pleased that I've kept with it and it didn't go off to die like so many of my other story ideas, and also that I am able to sustain it over this long a period. (When I'd write long-form fiction, which was mostly done during high school, it usually would take me about a month and a half writing 80 minutes a day (two study halls.)) Since high school, the only true "novels" I've written have both been for the Three Day Novel competition.

That is one of the nice things about this private practice deal. While being light on clients at the beginning leads to anxiety about how one will be paid, I am in a happy place right now where I am finding enough to keep the bills paid as well as have some time to do things like writing.

Thursday, December 08, 2005


John Winston Lennon
October 9, 1940-December 8, 1980

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Duh Award for Today...

Listening to MSNBC a bit ago, they said that one of the problems with the air marshal system is that they are easy to detect. This is because, apparently, the air marshals flash their credentials and get on the plane first.

I think if W spends a few hours thinking reeeeeeallllly hard on this problem, he might be able to come up with a solution to this.

(Like, board 'em with the rest of us poor schmoes.)

Can We All Be Clear? Keeping Children In A Cage Is Abusive. Not "Weird"

This fellow is an insurance agent, but he could probably be a guardian ad litem.

He's an insurance agent who visited their house and observed one of the eleven children of Sharen and Michael Gravelle in "a little cubbyhole type of thing," and another one in a "cage-type thing."

He found this "weird," but not abusive.

These, by the way, were adopted, special-needs children.

Then, we have the Huron County Department of Job and Family Services, which says that they received a report in 2003 "that the Gravelles were keeping some of their adopted special-needs children in cages."

But -- and I am not making this up -- they could not substantiate the allegation "because the Gravelles would not cooperate."

Would not cooperate? How about visiting the house? IT'S CALLED GETTING A SEARCH WARRANT. Available from any judge with the proof of probable cause.

Two representatives of HCDJ&FS visited the home but "
were not allowed to see the children's bedrooms upstairs." As a result, they didn't do a full investigation.


Can we imagine this conversation?

"They won't let us see the bedrooms, Chief."

"Ah, well, must mean there's nothing to see up there."

"OK. Is it time for lunch yet?"

Then, in August, 2005, they were allowed to visit the home, and at this point, the mother "allowed" the caseworkers to go upstairs.

Probably because she thought nothing would happen to her.

At THAT point, they went out and got a search warrant.

The parents' attorney is apparently irritated because HCDJ&FS listed the house, erroneously, as having nine cages, when there was one pet cage mistaken for a child's cage.

Doesn't this, in and of itself, tell us something?

And then, the caseworker says she believes that the Gravelles love the children.

But that they say they won't remove the cages.

And have impeded the agency's efforts to reunite the children.


I'd like to mention that if they adopted children, it means they went through what one would hope was a rigorous court process.

One would hope.

If there's any virtue from this horrible case, and it is a horrible case, it's that it's nice that the Toledo Blade is reporting on it. Too often, these decisions involving custody happen in the dark, and that's not a good thing. When people feel they aren't going to be held accountable for their actions, they tend to act like it.

Frankly, I wouldn't be surprised to see more cases like this. While eleven children caged by their parents is bad, I suspect there are lots more children who have been put into cages just as bad as anything with wire on it by peole mising the boat on what is happening.

PS: On an upbeat note, congrats to NJ and CA passers, especially TSC, GG and Eve, who take the oath today. Welcome to the practice!!!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

An iTunes Meme, courtesy of CG and Eve

I keep wanting to find a way to make a document list of ALL the songs on iTunes, but haven't been able to. Prolly a good thing, since you'd all just make fun of my very eclectic taste in music.

How many songs: 876 songs (still working on the CD collection)

Sort by song title-
First Song: 's Wonderful by Rod Stewart
Last Song: Your Mother Should Know by the Beatles

Sort by time -
Shortest Song: "Tune Up #3" from Rent
Longest Song: "West Side Story Suite" by Peter Nero

Sort by album -
First Album: 1967-1970 by the Beatles
Last Album: When the Sun Goes Down by Kenny Chesney

Top Five Recently Played Songs: (this was originally Most Played Songs, but I like my version better. So there.)
1. "Little St. Nick" by Brian Wilson (NOT the Beach Boys, this is his new album
2. "Winter Wonderland" by the Boston Pops
3. "Octopus's Garden" by the Beatles
4. "Star Spangled Banner" by the Houston Symphony (I have NO idea why I had this on...)
5. "Sooner or Later" by the Grass Roots

First song that comes up on Shuffle (I'm using party shuffle, don't know if that's what you're supposed to do): Sunday Morning by Maroon 5

Search:"sex", how many songs come up? well, 1, but only because the artist's name is David Essex
"death", how many songs come up? 0
"love", how many songs come up? 66
"you", how many songs come up? 150

listening to right now? Nothing!

Good Grub With Groceryman, Volume #1

Every now and then, I find something pleasing to the palate and try to share it with you. My recommendation today is simply a salad dressing -- namely, Drew's All Natural Thai Sesame Line dressing/maranade. I used Dole Spring Mix, orange bell peppers, and scallion onions, and then generously (perhaps just slightly too generously) added the dressing. It was fresh, refreshing, and didn't feel like I was clogging my arteries.

You can check this out at your local Bassett's Market. (For those of you in California, the closest one is in Sylvania, Ohio, or for those of you in Lynchburg, the closest one is in Bellevue, Ohio. Of course, it's really an hour's difference between the two.) Or you can go to to see more of his products.

Bon appetit!

Monday, December 05, 2005

Dear Eve

You asked me to advise you when I had my first billable hour.

You may consider yourself so advised, counselor. :)

Sunday, December 04, 2005

For those of you who want to know all the nitty-gritty about BarBri...or just wanna see them taking it on the chin...

Many thanks to Janet for sending me this article, which is entitled -- and I kid you not -- "Are Lawyers Being Overbilled for Their Test Preparation?"

And across the fruited blawgosphere, a chorus of wing-tipped, briefcase-carrying bloggers yelled out, "YOU BET YOUR BILLABLE HOURS WE ARE!!!!"

(And if anyone knows about overbilling, it's...)

Anywho, looks like the folks at BarBri are getting sued for antitrust violations. Although, I'm not sure whether it's that or there are people just upset that they're making too much money.

Hey, I can't complain. I passed, didn't I?

(It struck me today how completely awful starting bar prep two day after graduation in a hot, sticky rom with Feinberg lecturing on PMBR was. But that's neither here nor there.) flashbacks...*shivers*

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Go TSC Girl!

Do yourselves a favor, and check out TSC Girl's awesome take on the four Illinois pharmacists who refused to fill prescriptions for emergency contraceptives.

I certainly hope there are people out there encouraging you to run for office, TSC.

In Which Our Blogger, Having Complained Loudly About the Judicial System Not Getting Domestic Violence, Proposes A Solution

I actually came up with this on Monday, but the week has been so hectic, I haven't had the chance to sit down and write.

We begin with a bit of a definition of terms for those of you non-attorneys out there. (And for those of you who are attorneys, the terms won't hurt you a bit.)

Let's start with a very simple thing. When a judge makes a decision, no matter whether it's after a hearing while he or she is still on the bench or made in chambers, the court speaks through its findings, set down in a judgment entry.

Let me explain what I mean. (I've discussed this before, actually, in this entry.)

Let's say you are in court on a divorce case, and the judge, after hearing the testimony, says, "From what I've heard, I'm going to order that you be paid $200 in spousal support."

Great! The judge has ordered it. But, how do you prove it? Well, going back to the transcript is a possibility, but that's not how we consider it officially recorded. We require the judge to sign a piece of paper setting forth his or her decision and setting forth the reasons for it, referred to as a "judgment entry." The court officially speaks through its judgment entry, and without it, there is no proof you are entitled to remedies you seek. (There are big honking flaws with this sometimes in domestic relations court, but we aren't going there.)

OK, so, we're clear on the judgment entry thing. Now, in that judgment entry, sometimes courts are mandated to make findings. In criminal sentencng, there are "factors" the court must show it considered (i.e. severity of the offense, the likelihood the defendant will reoffend, impact to the victim, the community, et cetera.) A mandated finding is just what it sounds like -- a court must take a position that something either happened, or didn't happen.

Finally, we need to talk briefly about presumptions. Presumptions could almost be considered an "assumption." Think about the presumption of innocence. When a criminal defendant is charged with a crime, he is presumed innocent. The amount of evidence required to overcome a presumption changes depending on the circumstances. In a criminal case, to overcome the presumption of innocence, the defendant's guilt must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. At that point, we stop assuming the defendant is innocent and indicate that he is guilty. Presumptions are basically the law saying "In most cases, when x applies, we will do y, unless you can show us z."

So now, we get to my idea.

One of the problems with domestic violence is it's messy, dirty, dingy and difficult to talk about. We don't want to acknowledge it's out there. Sometimes, it's easier to look at things others call domestic violence and just sweep them under the rug.

That needs to stop.

To me, and a number of other people, it seems ludicrous to award custody of children to parents who engage in domestic violence, whether against the child or against the child's other parent. Now, I'm sure there are times when maybe it's necessary to do so, although I'm hard pressed to come up with one. But, can we at least acknowledge that when we see domestic violence, we ought to take a really hard look at whether giving someone who harms the people they are closest to custody of their kids is really in their kids' best interest (which is what, after all, we're supposed to be wondering about?)

So, the first part of my reform is this: Let's MAKE judges evaluate and take a stand on whether or not domestic violence has occurred. Let's mandate them to evaluate it in their judgment entry.

Now, the problem is that sometimes, domestic violence can be a loaded -- or, more accurately, unloaded -- term. People often want to assume that because there isn't "blood on the floor," no domestic violence has occurred. Unfortunately, domestic abusers are becoming more sophisticated than that, and not engaging in physical violence, but instead in a range of psychological terrors that is just as bad, if not worse. (That old thing your mom told you about sticks and stones but names? I think it was a crock.)

So, here's a good starting step for recognizing domestic violence in family courts:

In cases where child custody is contested, we should mandate that judges must make a finding as to whether either parent has engaged in a pattern of behavior exerted over either the other parent or the children as a means of control through physical violence, coercion, threats, isolation, and emotional, sexual or economic abuse. If such a finding is made, then the presumption is that person does not get custody.

So, in other words, if you are a judge, and you are told one in four comments made by a parent are abusive, you don't put up with that.

You don't put up with testimony that someone will pay for his daughter's college education only if she puts up with emotional extortion.

You understand that keeping a spouse and children short of money is a means of abuse and control.

And you say so.

If you don't understand it, we figure it out because what was testified to was all in the record and you still said it didn't happen. That allows the victim to appeal your ruling and for the transcript to be reviewed.

(Of course, often, by this point, the victim has run out of money and can't appeal, but this might help the situation be a little less desperate.)

Most rational thinking people agree that we need to think domestic abusers have no business having custody of their children. Taking this step would simply make sure that judges follow that logic.

Because right now, there is evidence that they aren't.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Dear Google Adsense

I do not think of myself as a one-stop shop for p-a-g-e-a-n-t a-t-t-i-r-e and e-v-e-n-i-n-g g-o-w-n-s, even though you did after I made a "good luck" entry to Laura, who was competing in a p-a-g-e-a-n-t.

And I definitely am not a fan of the f-a-t-h-e-r's r-i-g-h-t-s movement, despite your advertising their sleaze on my blog.

But, when you are advertising that people can clickthrough to "M-e-e-t R-e-p-u-b-l-i-c-a-n S-i-n-g-l-e-s."

This. Has. Got. To. Stop.

I spend a lot of my time trying to combat Republicans. The last thing I want to do is put them in the position of mating, for Pete's sake.

In addition, I think there's false advertising involved.

You are advertising "1000's of pictures of b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l R-e-p-u-b-l-i-c-a-n S-i-n-g-l-e-s."

I don't think it's POSSIBLE to come up with thousands of them.

After all, we Democrats pretty well have the market cornered on beautiful women. :)

So find another way to make me money, please.


For the first time in several days, life is a little calmer.

And life looks pretty good.

(Other than the fact that there's this new "post and comments options" thing at the bottom of the posting thing. I always change the post time to reflect what time I finish the entry, not what time I start, and it's just less convenient to do when I have to click on a button to get there.)

Anyway, why I've been incredibly busy...

Tuesday and Wednesday were devoted to packing and packing and packing and packing. Then Wednesday afternoon, Carol showed up with her van and we carried the stuff down one flight of stairs from my apartment to her van. Around 5:30, we left Sylvania and, after a stop at Max & Erma's to fill up on red meat, headed to Port Clinton.

It was then that the fun started.

While I was out searching for condos, one of them I looked at was a lovely, although too pricey, condo up three or four flights of stairs. In discussing it, one of the cons was that it was not accessible by elevator.

Well, as it turns out, I ended up renting a condo that is not accessible by elevator. Three flights of stairs.

Which made it an exercise of great exertion carrying boxes to my apartment. Carol kept saying to me, "Didn't we have the discussion about not getting a place that wasn't accessible by elevator?"

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Anyway, I got moved in Wednesday, and collapsed into bed.

Yesterday, I was supposed to have a trial filling in for the prosecutor's office, but I managed to settle that, so I went into court only to do plea agreements. That was okay, because I went back to Toledo to finish a few things out at my apartment, and then off to see Max Cleland.

So, as you might imagine, I was pleased to get done with work today (after again driving to Toledo), and get back here.

And "back here" is pretty nice, which is contributing to my good mood.

My apartment has a "porch" (which is more like a room off the living room with windows) which overlooks a harbor.

You can sit in this room and watch the sunset.

It's very nice to look out over.

I have a full, actual living room. A guest bedroom (which will become my office once it is not the Room of the Boxes I Have Not Yet Unpacked.)

The second floor is basically a master suite-type thing, a bedroom plus a bathroom/closet/sink area.

Very cool.

And I am locked in, insulated from the world this evening, writing this now, knowing I have another good post in me probably yet tonight, and then planning to spend some quality time with a good book.

Life is good. :)

Max Cleland

I had known Max Cleland for three seconds, and he already wanted a hug.

Now, this is not to imply there is something so wonderful about me that I frequently get this treatment, nor was there any special bond between the former Senator who introduced himself as Max. He wanted a hug from everyone.

Being short three of your limbs probably makes one value one's fellow human beings ever so slightly more.

I have to tell you, it was pretty cool to have Max Cleland speaking in my county. I tell people that Max Cleland is one reason I will never, ever become a Republican. (There are a hundred others that have to do with the dangerous policies that party embraces, of course.)

Cleland served in Vietnam, and while in battle, was injured so grievously that he lost his right arm and both legs. Coming home to Georgia, after recovering, he says he decided, "I had no girlfriend, no car, no apartment, no job, no prospects. What a great time to run for the state senate!" Meeting a gubenatorial candidate named Jimmy Carter, Cleland rose to become the Administrator of the Veterans' Administration.

In 1996, Cleland ran for the Senate from Georgia and won. In 2001, following the terrorist attacks, he sponsored the bill creating the Homeland Security administration (for which he apologized last night.) In 2002, he voted to authorize President Bush to use military force in Iraq.

But in the course of that, he did something that he wasn't supposed to do.

He had the temerity to question the Administration.

And this, they could not put up with.

So, the campaign of Republican Saxby Chambliss ran an ad which opened with showing Osama bin-Laden and Saddam Hussein, and the attacked Cleland for voting against President Bush's Homeland Security bill. It didn't mention that Cleland had sponsored another bill that, as the Washington Post said, "wasn't radically different."

What a class act that Republican party is, eh? You leave three limbs on the battlefield for your country and come back and get to share ad space with Osama bin-Laden and Saddam Hussein.

The ad was so bad Republican Senator Chuck Hagel told the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee that if they didn't pull it, he was going to run his own ads denouncing it. The ad was pulled, but Cleland still lost.

So, last night, he was in Ottawa County to talk about citizenship and the war in Iraq. He was as friendly and as folksy as could be, and displayed obvious brilliance and a pretty good eye for the General State of Things Around Here.

On the war in Iraq: "I've seen this movie before, and I know how it ends."

On former FEMA head Michael Brown: "Why did we have someone running FEMA who ran a horseman's association? I think we had the wrong end of the horse."

On priorities: "We can't even rebuild New Orleans. So what are we doing in Iraq?"

I get to meet a lot of politicians, all of whom are noteworthy for one reason or another. Cleland was noteworthy because, at the end of the evening, I wanted to be more involved rather than less.

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